Seems like a simple question, but a little poking around found the origins are a bit hard to pinpoint. That's mainly because it is difficult to say when the evolution of one thing produces something brand new.
Sherman Poppen attached two skis together in Muskegon, Mich., in 1965. His wife christened it "the Snurfer" and the kids loved it. He may have been inspired by a sled-like device made of plywood that first appeared in the 1920s. Poppen may have made the first snowboard; many say that he did. He certainly took a step in the evolution of snowboards.
Dutch native Dimitrije Milovich, who slid down the hills of Ithaca, N.Y., on trays from the Cornell cafeteria, also seems to have strong claim on the first actual snowboard. He created a prototype device, dropped out of college and headed toward brand-new Snowbird in Utah for the 1972-73 season.
Milovich produced boards for friends, refining his product, and in 1976 founded Winterstick. The company had two models, made 100 of them, and stopped.
The following year several others were making snowboards, including Mike Olson, Tom Sims, Chuck Barfoot, Bob Webber, and Jake Burton Carpenter, who built boards in his garage in Stowe, Vt. His bindings revolutionized the sport.
One might say the rest is history, but snowboarding took a while to catch on. Few resorts allowed snowboards even in the early ‘80s. Warren Miller called that policy "dumb" in one of his films of the era. Most resorts eventually agreed, until now there are but three that do not allow snowboarders.